Mara Purnhagen: Past Midnight

Past Midnight
by Mara Purnhagen
narrated by Tara Sands
(YA contemporary fantasy, ghosts)

“Life doesn’t stop just because you’re being stalked by ghosts.”

That is how I would have started the book. Instead, this was the first sentence of the 8th chapter. Granted, at the beginning of the book, ghosts weren’t something that the main characters were talking about as real things, but still. I’m sure there were ways to use this as the first sentence of the book. It would have been a much bigger hook, I think. As it was, I don’t remember anything about the first paragraph of the book. (By contrast, I remembered this sentence all the way to the end of the book, and I knew exactly where to find it, even though I had listened to it during my commute. I didn’t even need to replay it at the time for it to stick in my head through the remaining thirteen or so chapters.)

Anyway, enough of me trying to re-edit the book for the author. I did enjoy it, but my enjoyment of it really started around chapter 7 or 8. That’s when things really started happening. Most of the early stuff felt like background or set-up. Important, but less so. I wasn’t really hooked until chapter 8. Up to then, I could have put the book down and forgotten to pick it up again. (Nearly happened. I listened to HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON in the middle of this one, and restarted PAST MIDNIGHT mostly because my new Audible credits aren’t available yet.) Once I was hooked, though, I was HOOKED. I listened to most of this book at home on Wednesday while cooking dinner, eating, laundry, and doing various other chores. If it had been a paper book instead of an audio one, I would have finished it there and then instead of saving the last ½ hour for Thursday’s drive to work.

The basic plot is that Charlotte’s parents are ghost hunters, but their focus is to find a scientific explanation for the hauntings. And then… something happens that can’t be explained by science. Ghosts follow them home, and start haunting (aka “stalking”) Charlotte. And in the meantime, Charlotte has to deal with a new school, making new friends, and figuring out a mystery surrounding her new best friend’s boyfriend and his former best friend. There’s plenty going on, and even though I figured out essentially everything before it was detailed in the book, the reveals were still enjoyable.

The characters are all enjoyable, even the ones who aren’t friends with Charlotte. Some of the situations didn’t seem to fit what I remember of high school life, but then my parents weren’t paranormal investigators, either. And none of my friends were given brand-new cars for their birthdays, though I did know kids who were. So I suppose the situation is all believable – once you get past the hauntings and all.

Tara Sands did a good job of narrating the book, too. I’d listened to one of her other works before, which is actually why I bought this one in the first place. A good narrator makes a huge difference in the enjoyment of an audiobook.

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